What is Neurofeedback Therapy?
Neurofeedback is a form of therapy using cutting-edge, state-of-the-art computer systems to read brain signals and brain patterns and then improve them over time.
While the person is relaxing, their brain is receiving feedback about its brain signal use. The brain is actually taught to make more of the desirable signals (those identified on a person’s qEEG Brain Map as needing to be increased) and less of those that are being used too much. In this way the brain is learning to perform better based upon changing its signal use. This powerful treatment has been proven to create lasting improvements in brain patterns and in symptoms.
How Does Neurofeedback Therapy Work?
Neurofeedback Therapy works based upon scientifically proven brain conditioning.
The premise of Neurofeedback Therapy is founded in a science study that most people have heard of and is over 110 years old called Pavlov’s dog. Pavlov, a scientist, taught dogs to drool in the presence of food (the reward) and then took the food away and they still drooled. This is called Classical Conditioning. This study proved that brains could be conditioned, or taught, to change their performance to change behaviors based upon rewards. Taking this step further, Neurofeedback Therapy works based upon a technique called Operant Conditioning.
Operant Conditioning works through the use of positive feedback (rewards) and negative feedback (lack of rewards or consequences). For example, when your child is acting like an angel and you give him lots of praise and a lollipop, you are inadvertently using Operant Conditioning. If you do not give him praise and actually give him minimal attention when he is not using great behavior you are using operant conditioning again. Through a system of rewards and lack thereof, the brain learns what behaviors are desirable and which are not.
Neurofeedback Therapy capitalizes on Neuroplasticity, the brains ability to heal itself through this learning process. The brain receives a reward in the form of auditory and visual feedback when it is has proper brain signal use. This positive feedback is delivered in the form of a hum to the ears and a brightening of the computer screen visually for the person. If the person’s brain does not use the new better brain patter, the hum decreases and goes away and the screen becomes dim. This is the lack of the reward. If the brain signals fall very far out of the desirable pattern, the brain receives a correction in the form of a ding to the ears and darkening of the screen altogether. In this way the brain learns to improve its performance by working for the rewards and avoid the negative feedback.
Does Neurofeedback Work Long-Term?
Neurofeedback Therapy is a powerful tool for breaking the existing pattern that a person’s brain is stuck in. If a person suffers from symptoms and has for a long time, undoubtedly the brain is stuck in the current brain pattern. This is called a Negative Feedback Loop and this is how it works. A negative brain pattern causes negative behaviors for the person, which in turn create negative outcomes. For example, attention, focus, and working memory might suffer for a child diagnosed with ADHD. The ADHD pattern makes it all but impossible for the child to engage in his classroom work at school. Thus, he is behind, his grades suffer, and he is in trouble. Negative Brain Pattern -> Negative Behaviors -> Negative Outcomes. The power of Neurofeedback is that it BREAKS this negative feedback loop cycle by changing the brain pattern to a more positive one. Now as the brain pattern improves, attention and school work improves, and the child’s teacher and parents are happier and everyone is less stressed. This now creates a Positive Feedback Loop for change. A positive feedback loop is one in which a positive brain pattern continues to improve since it is being used over and over and thus behaviors and outcomes continue to get better and better. Positive Brain Pattern -> Positive Behaviors -> Positive Outcomes. This is proven by science in Hebb’s Law.
Is Their Science Behind Neurofeedback?
Hebb’s Law states that neurons (brain cells) that fire together, wire together.
What this means is that every time you use a brain pattern it is getting stronger. This is good and bad. Bad because the more you use a dysregulated, negative brain pattern the stronger it will get causing you more and more problems.
The good news is that the more you use a positive brain pattern, the stronger it gets. Neurofeedback Therapy has power in its ability to break that negative pattern once identified through qEEG Brain Mapping and establish the positive feedback loop so the new, better pattern is established and continues to get stronger and stronger over time. In this way, the neurons continue to practice firing together for improved behaviors and quality of life.
There are thousands of studies backing the efficacy of Neurofeedback Therapy. For specific scientific studies by category, please visit our Science page.
How Do I Know If Neurofeedback Therapy is Working?
It is measurable. The first way you know that Neurofeedback Therapy is working is through your behaviors, the goals you had when you set out to begin Neurofeedback Therapy. Your behaviors will improve. However, Neurofeedback Therapy is measurable at Leigh Brain & Spine because of the use of the highest grade equipment that exists. We can measure your results throughout your therapy program.
Each visit for Neurofeedback Therapy records a performance graph of your brain functioning. Thus, you can see within each session and across sessions if indeed your brain signals and brain pattern are changing. With the change in pattern comes relief of symptoms.
What is Neurofeedback Like?
Sessions are quite pleasant. Once you are reclined comfortably in a chair while you watch a movie that reacts to their brain functioning patterns and changes of use by playing bright (positive brain pattern) versus dimmed (negative brain pattern). The brain bio-sensors are ‘read only’ and simply listen to electrical impulses, brain signals, from your brain, helping it to produce more of the desired brain pattern and less of the undesired one. Communication between groups of cells in the brain generates thoughts, sensations, actions and emotions.
During a neurofeedback session, sensors detect your brain’s pattern to see your brain in action. A computer compares your brain activity to targets or goals for you to reach. Sounds and images tell your brain immediately when it has reached its goal of the more desirable brain pattern – when you are activating or suppressing the target area of the brain and how it is using electrophysiological energy.
Through this simple method, your brain learns how to reduce brain patterns associated with low performance and increase brain patterns associated with optimal brain function. Much like physical exercises strengthen and develop specific muscles, the more your brain is exercised into reaching a new more comfortable, more efficient functioning position, the better and stronger it gets at it. Like any new skill, it simply requires feedback and practice.
After your session, one of our Neurofeedback technicians will show you the graph produced by your session so that you can clearly see how your brain performed and improvements of brain functioning over time.
How Long Are Neurofeedback Sessions?
Sessions are approximately 35 – 40 minutes. After your neuro-sensors are applied to your scalp and you are relaxed and seated comfortably you will receive 30 minutes of uninterrupted neurofeedback therapy.
Is Your Neurofeedback Program the Same for Everyone?
No. Each person’s Neurofeedback program, at Leigh Brain & Spine, is individualized for their specific needs based upon their specific brain map. This is not the same as all practitioners. The highest level equipment and skills of our practitioners make it possible for Leigh Brain & Spine to deliver the highest quality, individualized care. qEEG Brain Mapping is an essential step in individualizing care. Each brain map is analyzed and interpreted and a specific Neurofeedback Therapy program is recommended and established and using each person’s individual brain map. Each person’s therapy program is designed for his or her specific needs and is constantly monitored to be sure gains are being made.
Why Haven’t I heard of Neurofeedback?
Scientific understanding of how the brain works has been changing and evolving so quickly over the past 20 years that it is almost unfathomable. In fact, just ten years ago scientists believed the brain was static and unchangeable after the early years of life. You have probably seen in popular magazines and newspapers that now scientists know that the brain is dynamic and can be pushed to perform better over the course of your lifetime through a concept known as neuroplasticity. This is an important shift which makes it the perfect time to capitalize on that knowledge to help yourself or your child.
Neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to learn and change through life) is now the focus of scientific inquiry rather than ridicule as it was a decade ago.
Neurofeedback employs a sophisticated, evidence-based approach with quantifiable results backed by 65 years of clinical application. Still, old ways of practice can take a long time to be extinguished while new ways can take too long to gain traction. Thus, the brain sciences have advanced so quickly, that few medical establishments have yet to integrate approaches based on this new view; hence many practitioners do not even have a basic understanding of neurofeedback or its clinical applications. Forward thinking practices as our self and the world-renowned Amen Clinics, of which we are an affiliate center, use qEEG Brain Mapping and Neurofeedback Therapy as a crucial aspect of therapy for challenges of the mind and body.
Thankfully, the doctors at Leigh Brain & Spine are on the forefront of this life changing, cutting-edge technology that is available to permanently help you and your family.
Who Uses Neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback Therapy is used by professionals around the world to teach children with ADHD how to calm their mind and concentrate, and is rated Level 1 ‘best practice’ intervention for ADHD by the American Pediatric Association. Children with learning challenges are seeing gains in behavior and performance as they organize and stabilize their brain patterns.
NASA uses neurofeedback to train astronauts. The US military uses it to train their Special Forces, and have adopted neurofeedback as a new intervention for PTSD and traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Because it is not harmful at all and it improves focus, productivity, and stress many peak performers in all fields are now using and endorsing neurofeedback. Tony Robbins, multi-millionaire business man, musicians at the Royal Conservatory in London, the Women’s Olympic volleyball team (Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May Trainor), NBA player Chris Kaman, and the entire Vancouver Canucks hockey team are just a few to mention. Neurofeedback helps them stay calm under pressure, tap into their creativity, and implement the necessary strategies so they can succeed.
You will be working one-on-one with the professionals at Leigh Brain & Spine who will monitor and assist your progress, working with you to assure best results. For testimonials from real patients at Leigh Brain and Spine, visit our Testimonial page.
What Professionals Say About Neurofeedback.
“The literature, which lacks any negative study of substance, suggests that EEG biofeedback therapy should play a major therapeutic role in many difficult areas. In my opinion, if any medication had demonstrated such a wide spectrum of efficacy, it would be universally accepted and widely used.”
Frank Duffy, MD, Neurologist, Harvard Medical School Professor, Head of the Neuroimaging Department and of the Neuroimaging Department at Boston’s Children’s Hospital
Leigh Brain and Spine is proud to have earned the distinction as a Certified Brain Health Coach Center and is a proud member of the Amen Clinics referral network.